Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Breaking Up with Social Media

I broke-up with social media.

Actually, I took a break from Facebook.

If I were being perfectly honest I would tell you the myriad of reasons why I temporarily deactivated my account.  For instance, I gave it up for Lent.  But, as you can see I logged back on before Lent is over. I was not going through the shakes of withdrawal, actually it is so nice just to give up the website. The relapse is not because I am too weak to stay off of the drama-filled website, but because I had to print off a letter from my private messages for a work related matter. Yes, the private message is that serious. 

The second reason I took a break is because I found myself increasingly addicted to the idea of reading a new status.  I could not get enough of updates concerning tragic relationships, bad moods, hatred, or the slightest hint of drama in the air.  I neglected my personal relationships to be face to face with my computer or iPhone screen.  It became an insatiable bad habit.  As soon as my alarm would sound in the morning I began my day by reaching for my phone.  I would let my eyes grow accustomed to the light of the screen before turning on the lamp on my nightstand.  I could not wait to scroll through the statuses from the night to read what happened while I was sleeping.  At night I would often fall asleep with my phone in my hand.  Multiple times my boyfriend would ask me, "Hey, can you put your phone down to spend time with me?" or I would hear, like a train in the distance, "Who are you talking to that is so important?" The most messed up thing is that the people I was trying so hard to follow are not close friends. These people are acquaintances or from high school.  High school was over 17 to 21 years ago, some of those people I do not even remember.   

I left Facebook because I was feeling emotionally weak. The more I read the drama that I was thriving on, the angrier I would become.  I focused on negativity in all aspects of my life. Anger was eating me up from the inside, I was angry to my core. I was my own worst enemy, work sucked, coworkers sucked hard, family sucked, my body and personal perception sucked, and the boyfriend especially sucked.

The boyfriend was stressed and increasingly rude. This caused strife between us. He and I were not jelling. I thought the boyfriend was acting like a dick; he was, to an extent. If he was going to be discourteous to me, I would show him inconsiderate. If I answered his calls I refused to say anything more than yes or no. Most of the time I would decline his calls and not return them either. I ignored text messages from him. I stopped coming around. I stood him up for a date. I stopped social interaction with him and disappeared for multiple weeks at a time.

Nothing I did to make myself happy again repelled the negativity in my head.  All of my creativity was depleted. I stopped writing. I had no interest in making art. I bypassed my yoga pants to put on sweatpants and a robe, my uniform of weekend leisurewear. I laid in bed crying and watching sad movies. I was depressed.

To make matters worse it was February.Valentine's Day was approaching. Happy couples in love, pictures of PDA, love, little diamond engagement rings, sappy love, and I was feigning happiness. In fact, I saw one of the many engagement photos and lost it.

"Seriously? The metal in the ring dwarfs the stone! A tiny, little, faint chip of a diamond that only offers one singular sparkle and I'm supposed to fall all over it and be impressed? Congratulations. Best wishes. I hope the bride's bangs grow out before the wedding because that hairstyle is pretty heinous."

I could not handle it.

I took myself off of Facebook.

I retreated further from society and deeper under my comforter. The Little Rottens questioned my quitting them and abandoning social media, "What is this? You stop coming over on weekends, we don't see you, no text messages or phone calls, and now your Facebook is gone too?" "Yeah! What is your explanation for your absence?" "How are you explaining yourself?" Friends immediately began what seemed to be a text messaging campaign concerning my Internet whereabouts and expressing their uncertainty of my emotional well-being. I appreciated those.  My responses were not as forthcoming as I could have been, "Yep, I'm good. Everything is fine. Yes, I agree we will have to get together soon."

I was tired of being sad and had to pull myself out of this funk. Since I was ready to be happy again it was up to me to make the decision to be so. Starting small, I got out of bed. I smiled. The next time the boyfriend called I answered the telephone. It was rocky at first but together we got the communication train rolling. Thanks to the boyfriend's cheerleading my motivation for art is vamped and my self-confidence is renewing. 

Now that I've been away from Facebook my positivity is returning and creativity is flowing. By making this me-centric decision I am able to focus on personal relationships. Assuredly I am beginning to be happy again.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Waking Up to Wonderful

This morning I was peacefully sleeping when I heard my mom sliding the cabinet drawers in the bathroom open and closed.  She is clinking her hot rollers back into their carrier. 

Outside of my bedroom I hear my father's side of a telephone conversation, "Oh yeah. Hold on. She's getting ready for work.

No, to me she is always beautiful." 

My Boyfriend the Cheerleader

This week I was called by my girlfriend Belle, a marketing guru and a sometimes on-air remote-location personality for Memphis Pirate Radio. She offered me the opportunity of a lifetime, "You are the first person I thought of," for photographing a famous comedian and actor while he is visiting Memphis with the television show So You Think You Can Dance.

Normally I would jump at the chance to show off my skills at portraiture, but this time I had to pass. My 9 to 5, more accurately 7:30 to 4, refused to let me leave a couple of hours early on Friday for a work related retreat. There is no way they'd let me off on a Thursday morning to pursue a personal passion. With great disappointment I had to turn Belle's opportunity down.

Belle and I hang up. My mind is spinning. I drive away from Bartlett and reflect about my job as the city disappears into neglected winter fields of overgrown grass. The countryside lining the left and right of Highway 51 passes by in a blur.

I want more responsibility. I need the money I am worth. It has become a necessity to work at a job that is fulfilling and offers the creative release that I crave. Currently, with the job I hold, none of those criteria are being met. I am just a glorified spell checker with the title of Office Associate; an unremarkable peon at the bottom of a totem pole.

My face flushes red in anger as I think about the past week at work. I realize that I fell for a sales pitch during a committee meeting this past October. I let my head be filled with promises of potentially utilizing creativity, career opportunities, and amazing learning experiences all in an attempt to secure an hour or two of my time as a paid volunteer for a work-related retreat.

Although I was assured by the retreat coordinator my time would be approved and she would take care of everything the proverbial ball was dropped. Although she had five months the retreat coordinator waits until the week before the retreat to sent an email notification to the Powers that Be, the conglomeration of supervisors in my office, to confirm my and another coworkers time.

The Powers that Be declined releasing me from the office for two hours because I did not request the time off as personal vacation. Taking vacation for a work related event does not make sense.  Also, they did not want me out of the office while my immediate supervisor is away on vacation. It is all odd.

I understand the retreat was a last minute notice for the Powers that Be. I cannot be upset about that aspect of their decision. But as I'm driving I have a solid realization. Although my talents are verbally acknowledged, at my current position I'll never be considered anything more than a trained monkey that pushes paper in a dysfunctional department. I will not get ahead. In this I am extremely disappointed and thoroughly discouraged.

Although I just left his house I text J2, "It feels like that Christian joke where a guy is in a flood and stranded on a roof and prays to God, 'God, please save me.' As soon as the guy finishes the prayer a canoe floats by the guy. The guy lets the canoe go past because God will provide.

Is this opportunity that I'm passing up my canoe to greater things?"

He returns my text with a call. I answer, "Hey Babe."

"It could be the first step. Call in sick - go in late. Have 'car trouble.'

Photographing the famous comedian sounds like something in line with what you want to do with your life - you can always proof transcripts."

I respond, "It's not a paying gig."

"Neither was Chris Hardwick's podcast."

Chris Hardwick is a former Memphian, a television personality, a comedian, and an actor turned media mogul.  He is the king of all things nerdy.

J2 makes his point, do what you love and you will love what you do.   

"Is it really about your job? Or do you think you are not good enough?"

"Eh, it's work but it's also that I don't have enough education. I don't know everything about photography.  I'm not confident that I'll do enough." Although I'm frustrated with myself I smile, J2 knows me too well.

"Are you questioning your ability? Because I've seen your work - you are good enough."

A memory plays vibrantly in my mind. Our very first date on November 8, 2007, sitting in a quiet, dark corner at Cozymel's Mexican Grill, J2 asks, "What do you want to do with your life?"

At that time I want to be a sports photographer. When I answer the question accordingly I am surprised that his immediate response is not a veiled sexist comment, a laugh, or even wanting an explanation. Without missing a beat he excitedly asks, "How are we going to make this happen?"

To him my aspirations are valid and my dreams are obtainable! It is our first date and with his support I want to grab his hand and a pen to draw a four year outline on my napkin for becoming a photographer. I am excited! He has my back! We can face the world together! We are Jack and Rose, "I'm the king of the world." Anything is possible! Raw-Raw! Sis-Boom-Bah!

That is what it is like to be J2's friend. He is the ultimate cheerleader. If you question yourself he has an amazing ability and charisma to renew your faith to believe in yourself. I've seen him do it time and again.

Before we hang up he says, "It's up to you, but I think you should call Belle back. I think it's your canoe. Don't let it go by."

I let the idea churn in my head. It does not settle. I am not comfortable with the idea of letting my canoe pass.

I text Belle.

YES!! I have been looking for that something extra, a search for the fulfillment of being completely happy in nearly all aspects of my life. After feeling down about work and stuck without a potential prospect of leaving my dead end job I'm bursting with sheer excitement! Possibility is intoxicating! With the cheerleaders in my life, like J2 and Belle, anything is possible!

*Update: Although the photo shoot fell through my excitement and intoxication with creativity have not diminished.

On Tuesday morning The Powers that Be apologized for not granting permission to volunteer at the retreat.  She also hoped that I did not waste my personal time of the weekend volunteering on campus.